(part of the exhibition “Publiek Park, 2023”)
In his work, Jonas Dehnen plays with the genre of sculptural folly. A folly, in architecture, is a primarily decorative garden or park building, which through its appearance suggests a fictional purpose or history (for example a fake ruin or abandoned castle). Dehnen's work can be read as a tentative sculptural proposal for a park folly in the shape of a tin foil hat, a low-tech homemade protective device and a symbol of paranoia, superstition and conspiratorial beliefs. Furthermore, Dehnen's folly expands upon the visual language of the artist’s paintings and drawings, which for several years have integrated themes such as maps of French and English garden designs, or hermitages - an 18th and 19th-century trend in landscaping that can be situated in the wider cultural current of romanticism.
Jonas Dehnen’s (1992, DE/BE) practice is stubbornly devoted to traversing the jaded landscape of painterly tropes and conventions. To him, the medium of painting feels like treacherous ground, despite the fact that it’s long been charted. Dehnen interrogates the way in which contemporary paintings and art objects in general performatively parade their purported authenticity. Each work carefully follows its predecessors, in a slow and iterative picture-making process, in which visual themes grow and develop organically. This primarily plays out in paintings, drawings, and occasionally in three-dimensional work. Motifs drawn from literature intermingle with visual markers of identity. This might include pub signs, carnival floats, vernacular architecture, folk paintings and other elements of visual patois. These undergo a subjective examination led by the (im-)possibilities and the ‘cultural memory’ of the material and of matter itself.
The work of Jonas Dehnen is created within the framework of a collaboration between Publiek Park and Pizza Gallery, a contemporary art project space located in Borgerhout, Antwerp.
(text by Publiek Park, pictures by Michiel de Cleene, Robert Monchen and Stans Vrijsen)